With a Pacific heart…
At the Me Ako Tonu Professional Development Hui earlier in 2023, a focus shone on promoting Pasifika understanding within a bicultural setting, as several of our kindergartens showcased their Pacific heart. Subsequently, two of our kindergartens were presented with Kidsfirst Values Awards due to the multitude of ways they integrated their own culture into day-to-day learning and further connected with their communities.
Kidsfirst Hoon Hay were recognised for incorporating a Samoan perspective into their environment, and helping their Pasifika whānau transition more smoothly into the neighbouring school.
Kidsfirst Niu celebrated their Tongan heritage while bringing an additional sense of belonging to the kindy to sit alongside the bicultural learning that occurs at all our of Kidsfirst Kindergartens.
Increasingly, kindergartens are not just dealing with one culture. Te Whāriki (the National Curriculum for Early Childhood Education), places a strong emphasis on biculturalism. Yet, beyond that, many kindergartens are also dealing with children from other backgrounds and diverse communities.
Such is the case with these two kindergartens in particular.
Kidsfirst Hoon Hay has a large Pasifika community, and one of their kaiako, Amelia Solofuti, brings her own understanding of Samoan culture to their young learners. Over the past few years, the kindergarten has been involved in a research project which explores understanding of Pasifika culture in the context of school transition. “Soso’o le fau ma le fau – connect the fibre with another fibre” allows for collaboration between the involved kura and early childhood centres, and for kaiako to better understand some of the barriers that children come up against when facing the transition to school.
The kindergarten has worked closely with the neighbouring Te Kōmanawa Rowley School, where most of their children go after kindy. The results of their research were not only improved understanding between the kindergarten, community, and the school, but also within the new-entrant classrooms, where teachers became “inspired” by what they saw at Kidsfirst Hoon Hay and integrated a greater Pasifika flavour into the surroundings.
There are crafts referencing Samoan culture at Kidsfirst Hoon Hay
Tongan is the predominant culture of the kaiako at Kidsfirst Niu, and the kindergarten has long been a destination kindergarten for the wider Tongan community, who have often travelled from all over the city to come here. That’s because of the way it proudly acknowledges its heritage while implementing Kidsfirst’s curriculum and Te Whāriki for all children.
It’s not an easy task to combine three rich cultures seamlessly but it is something that these centres have done well. Having teachers who come from the same background obviously helps, but beyond that is a willingness to share their culture and value system, and truly embrace those of others.
Whoever the child and whatever their background, the tamariki are always warmly welcomed. Parents and caregivers can also be assured that the experienced, qualified, and registered kaiako help to provide a rich and inclusive learning experience.
The team at Kidsfirst Niu are proud of Tongan culture as shown here during Tongan Language Week.
Every year Kidsfirst Kindergartens celebrate the individuals, kindergartens and teaching teams who have showcased our values in their mahi, with their generosity, hard work and enthusiasm for what we stand for and believe in.